I was telling a friend yesterday that I’m in a fragile place right now in my walk. I feel like if someone were to touch me I would shatter into a million pieces on the floor. I’m in a sweet place with the Lord but also such a hard place, both humbling and humiliating, and also kind of annoying.
Prompted from a pastor I admire I prayed the prayer that David lays out in Psalm 139:23-24
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
I sat on my couch afraid to pray those words. I was afraid of disappointing God, which is ridiculous because he already knows what is grievous in me. I can’t surprise him. Once I finally gathered the courage to ask I felt him immediately answer.
You have so much pride.
Pride is the worst. It is the root of all sin. It always insists on its own way and it always keeps score. Pride says, “I’m always right and you are wrong”. Pride is so scary and so destructive and I hate it.
When I think about pride and its cause I always come back to Genesis, the beginning where Satan tempts Adam and Eve with the fruit. I’m convinced that the fruit is pure pride. “God is holding out on you, There is something better, You could be as great as God.”
In my heart of hearts I know that my pride stems from not trusting the heart of God. I’m not trusting that God’s heart is ultimately good. I’m afraid of him, but not in a reverent way. I’m afraid of the suffering and the pain and the uncomfortableness of being his follower.
There is a quote from C.S. Lewis that I come back to a lot:
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
So along with this pride, I’m wrestling with the goodness of God. I’m wrestling with admitting that my imperfect human perspective limits my ability to discern between “good” and “bad”.
My friend Bethany wrote a blog recently that challenged my thoughts about God. She tilted it “Give God a Break”.
“Today we are so afraid to claim any suffering and pain as coming from the Lord,” she wrote. “Because if it were he that caused pain, we judge that he would not be a loving God. We don’t want to deny that God is loving, so we come up with theology that separates God from all suffering and pain in our lives; he is only connected to blessing and favor. Something about that doesn’t seem to line up with the way ancient Israel interacted with their deity. It doesn’t correspond with Paul’s exhortations from prison to the persecuted church. I realized that whether it is because of my circumstances, the injustice I see around me, or the Bible stories of God wiping out entire nations and races…I do not give God the benefit of the doubt.”
Honestly, I have been struggling with this idea since coming home from the race (It’s been almost 3 years, so a long time.) I’ve seen so many things that contradict some of the messages I hear in church, things people have said to me about God, and how if we just have faith the Lord will bless our bank accounts. Which, please don’t hear me wrong, the Lord will do and has done that for us. BUT I think it’s dangerous to believe that because it represents a belief that God is here for us, that he is our little genie that will just grant all our wishes and wants if we just ask him.
I’ve been in more third world countries than a lot of people, I’ve seen what I believe to be real faith and they don’t have an overflowing bank account or a nice car or a beautiful house that’s paid off. They have just enough. Sometimes, less than enough. They believe that God is better than their stuff and I think that’s where we fall short. We want stuff. We want new clothes and that new watch that costs $2,000 far more than we want an authentic, uncomfortable relationship with the Lord.
Never once does Jesus say that we will live an easy life here on earth. He always prepares us for suffering and to be hated.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
Are we able to say that we would lose everything and count it as a loss? We gloss over the book of Job like it never happened. God let satan take everything from Job– EVERYTHING. God never even tells him why but basically just says, “I’m God.”
Do these things mean that God is not good? No. Jennie Allen the author of the book Anything and the creator of IF: gatherings said this;
“You have to thank God for the seemingly good and the seemingly bad because really, you don’t know the difference.”
The times where I have had the most suffering, the hardest conversations, the scariest moments, those were the times I was closest to God. Those were the times where my relationship with him flourished. I only had Him to rely on, not my things or my own wisdom and understanding.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
When we read that verse I think in our human understanding we believe that God will stop all bad things in our lives, which we all know isn’t true.
Two of my dear friends have been sexually assaulted in their lives.
Another friend has had abortion.
Two others have parents that have chosen addiction over them.
This life is messy and in our human wisdom we say that all those things are bad. We say that God could never be in those things. But what if he is? What if God is seen most in suffering because those moments, those life circumstances, throw us right into His arms.
What if the hardest things are the best things because they make us trust him most.
I just can’t shake this idea that as Americans, we have put God in a little box of our own selfishness. Is it our glory that we are seeking or are we letting the glory of God be seen through us? I don’t want to put God in a box. I don’t want to serve this fake God that is made in my own image that makes me feel good about myself and will never tell me anything’s wrong with me. I want the real God, I want my heart to know the difference between the gospel of Chelsea and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.